Paranormal team investigates Periwinkle Place Manor

Editor’s note: Reporter Sara Jordan-Heintz offers a first-hand take glimpse into the paranormal and what she experienced during a recent visit to Periwinkle Place Manor in Chelsea.

CHELSEA – Periwinkle Place Manor may be one of the most unusual places I have been sent to on assignment.

The manor, which serves as a bed and breakfast and plays host to murder mystery dinners and holds parties and events, is actually a converted funeral parlor, which from 1892 to 2003 operated as Hrabak Funeral Home, located at 704 Main Street in Chelsea. The manor was named after an antique periwinkle casket on the property (there are several caskets around the premises).

Last week, I arrived at the manor and met with a group of paranormal investigators including author and radio host Adrian Lee, who works as a psychic and historian, stationed out of Minnesota and is the founder of TIPS (The International Paranormal Society.) His claim is that he can communicate with spirits who provide him with names, dates, locations and other basic information which he then uses to conduct research to learn more about a “haunted” place’s history. In addition, the S.E.E. (Seek, Experience, Educate) Paranormal group out of Marion, Iowa was on hand, plus a few of Lee’s colleagues.

I was taken on a tour of the manor, which is a quaint Victorian mansion bursting with antiques, consisting of three levels with rooms converted for guests to spend the night. The investigators brought lots of high-tech equipment for documenting their findings. They took photographs of all areas of the house to compare with footage obtained during the investigation. “Trigger objects” such as toys and fishing bobbers were placed on shelves and beds, in an attempt to ask sprits if they are able to move them as a form of communication.

“Funeral parlors tend to be quiet places because sprits never lived there,” Lee told me. “I think we will get family members to come through. I would be surprised if people who were laid to rest come through.”

Minutes after entering the house, I felt what seemed like a droplet of water hit my hand, but then I realized my skin was dry. Later, I again felt that sensation on my arm: cold, wet, prickly feelings that last but a second on just one section of skin at a time. During the investigation, S.E.E. Paranormal co-founder Adam Hyatt told me he too felt the cold wet droplet sensation, which he said occurred on his face.

Once darkness descended on the property, the team was ready to go “lights out.” We split into two groups, each one containing a group leader and a psychic (one being Lee and the other Brian Hickmann.) My group began the investigation in a downstairs bedroom. Right away, an extreme feeling of tension and anxiety overcame me. The others agreed there was a heaviness in the room. Lee took out his EVP detector (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) in an attempt to ask questions and record a response. The sound that comes through the device reminds me of the sound of dialing from one radio station to the next. Static and interference came through, but what was also clear at times was the manifestation of words. While the group didn’t always agree on what was heard or where every sound was coming from, Lee told us he had made contact with a spirit named “Joseph” who said there were three other entities in the room with us. (I think I had my hands nervously clasped during that comment.) Lee determined he was speaking with Joseph Hrabak, the founder of the funeral home. At times, it sounded like several voices were answering the questions in unison, and with Czech accents.

Jodi Philipp, owner of the manor, said she has encountered paranormal activity since first acquiring the property three years ago, in which she completely gutted, cleaned and revamped the residence after it sustained a fire, flooding and abandoned for years. Wanting to expand her successful murder mystery dinner business, Philipp decided to turn the property into a gathering place and bed and breakfast, at first shying away from the idea of emphasizing the property’s morbid roots.

“I felt marrying the B&B and murder mystery was a neat thing and that way my guests could stay over,” she said.

Philipp said she believes paranormal occurrences happen all over the property. She said there have been reports of cupboard doors banging, doors opening and closing, blankets moving on beds and the sound of humming and coughing. She said she would hear the sound of a downstairs table moving and upon investigating would find it turned over. After moving its location to the third floor (the level reported to have the most activity,) the table was not touched again. Allegedly, a doll and rocking horse in one of the guest rooms moves on their own. While I too found the doll to be eerie, nothing happened in my presence. I was curious about the claim that the rocking horse moves. Upon conducting my own test, I deduced that is does not rock without considerable force applied as it is “front” heavy and when pushed falls forward hard and would not easily rock back and forth just from a breeze.

For Philipp, the most unsettling experience she has had occurred in the carriage house, a building on the grounds where the hearses were once stored. It was there she saw a smoky apparition of a man wearing a fedora.

“I know how this sounds to people,” she said. “I always say to look at this as entertainment and not promise people they will encounter something when they stay here. However, when asked personally, I say I believe the place is haunted. Something happens here almost daily.”

The investigation continued into the wee hours of the night. The other group believed they saw a shadow figure and communicated with spirit children capturing “mama” on their EVP equipment. They also pointed to temperature changes (such as cold spots) as signs of otherworldly presence. Half the process, however, is spending countess hours going through audio and watching the footage. All the findings of the investigation were not available at press time.

“Paranormal just means things that can’t be proven by science,” Lee said. “Science lags behind man’s wisdom. Future generations will look back and either think we were crazy or on to something. History will judge what we do.”

Periwinkle Place Manor will be included in a chapter in one of Lee’s upcoming books.

To learn more about the manor, contact Philipp at 319-551-3660.

Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or